Monday, February 21, 2011

Ms Wheelchair Massachusetts 2011 Competition - March 27, 2011

The Ms Wheelchair Massachusetts 2011 competition will take place on Sunday, March 27, 2011, at Carson Place / Bayside Epo Center in Boston. If you are a female wheelchair user between the ages of 21-65, consider competing this year! If you are interested, visit our website at Or you can send an email for more information to Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ms Wheelchair Massachusetts 2010 Competion

The Ms Wheelchair Massachusetts 2010 competition will take place on Sunday, November 7, 2010, at Carson Place / Bayside Epo Center in Boston. If you are a female wheelchair user between the ages of 21-65, consider competing this year! If you are interested, visit our website at Or you can send an email for more information to Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Ms Wheelchair Massachusetts Program Is Seeking Participants

The 2009 Ms Wheelchair Massachusetts Competition is Coming Up!

If you are a woman who is:

· A Massachusetts resident
· Between the ages of 21 – 60
· Marital status is not a factor
· Using a wheelchair for 100% of your active daily mobility

You could be crowned as the new Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts 2009!

Sunday, March 29th, 2009
“Carson Place” at the Bayside Expo Center
180 Mt. Vernon Street
Boston, MA 02125
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts is NOT a beauty contest. Contestants are judged on their accomplishments, self-perception, and communication skills in: Personal Interviews, On-stage Interviews, and Platform Speech

The winner will compete for the title of Ms. Wheelchair America 2010 in South Dakota in August 2009!

Entry fee is $150 per contestant. Contestants are encouraged to solicit sponsorship to cover this fee. Scholarships are available if this cost is prohibitive. Fee includes lunch for contestant and companion, pageant DVD, and an 8x10 contestant photo.


For more information or to apply, contact Autumn Grant at 774-501-1185 or email: Please stop by our website at

Meet Ms. Wheelchair America 2008 and Ms. Wheelchair America 2007
at this year’s pageant!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Visit the Ms Wheelchair America Website!

Click on or visit for information, pictures, videos and more from this year's Ms Wheelchair America competition!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Congratulations to Ms Wheelchair Massachusetts 2008, Kristen Parisi

Congratulations to Ms Wheelchair Massachusetts 2008
Kristen Parisi

for winning

The Todd Mullins Courage Award
The Ms Wheelchair America 2009 Competition

You did a great job!

Check out Kristen Parisi's blog at:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Congratulations to all of the MWA Contestants!

Well, the new Ms. Wheelchair America Michelle Colvard is off and running, and I hope she has a truly happy and successful year. But now that the competition is over, I want to congratulate all of the women who competed for the crown this year. They are all amazing women, and they are each making a big impact in the disability communities of their home states. I got to know them all personally during our week together and I was so impressed with their dedication! I hope to keep in touch with each and every one of them because we are all part of the MWA family!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Farewell Address...

Farewell from Kristen McCosh, Ms Wheelchair America 2008

Dream Come True
Where should I begin? Becoming Ms Wheelchair America 2008 has been like a dream come true. I feel so honored to have been selected as a leader among an incredible field of women. I never could have imagined the journey I would be embarking on last July when I arrived at the pageant. It has been a year I’ll never forget…

Women of Strength
At the Ms Wheelchair America 2008 Pageant last summer, I had the incredible opportunity to meet women from all across America who use wheelchairs for their daily mobility. We truly bonded during our week together, and many of us have established life-long friendships. It was so empowering to hear about the other contestants’ personal platforms and learn about all of the great work they were doing in their home states. We had such diversity among us: career women, stay-at-home moms, graduate students, dancers, teachers, writers, and more... What an incredible display of talent! After I became the national titleholder, I was given the chance to travel throughout the country to speak about the accomplishments of these women of strength. As I ventured out proudly on my reign, I met even more successful, dynamic women with disabilities than I ever even knew existed. I met women from every corner of the United States who are active and involved in politics, parenting, recreation and work – and they are making a significant impact on the disability community. It was a thrilling, invigorating experience.

On The Road
My first trip was to sunny Southern California for the Tournament of Roses. I got to meet the Rose Queen and her Court; I was allowed a back-stage pass to tour the floats for the Rose Parade as they were being built; and I got a front-row seat at the parade. During my visit to Pasadena, I worked to connect MWA with representatives of the Kiwanis Organization, and together we made history! Next year – for the first time ever – Ms Wheelchair America will not just be at the Rose Parade, she will be in the Rose Parade!

Next I visited frosty but friendly Deadwood, South Dakota for the annual Ski For Light event. What fun! I got a tour of the historic old Western town where Wild Bill Hickok once lived; I got to see the faces on Mt. Rushmore; and I participated in a few downhill ski runs. The Ski For Light group was fantastic! They are upbeat, fun, and they even showed me a few “wheelie” moves on the saloon dance floor. I can’t wait to go back next year…

Then I was off to Tucson, Arizona where I gave the keynote speech at the Disabled Divaz fashion show. I got to meet all of the runway models, who were so beautiful on the inside as well as the outside! It was my first time down the catwalk, so I got a few pointers from the women who had been preparing for the show for months. Kudos to them all…

My final trip was to the Little League World Challenger Jamboree in Virginia Beach. Here I met family members, friends and volunteers who were dedicated to children with disabilities. The kids beamed when they saw my crown, and one mother told me her daughter said that she wanted to be Ms Wheelchair America when she grew up. The children were priceless and precious!

Opportunity for Advocacy
Besides having a chance to inspire and empower women, I also got to advocate for vital programs and services that facilitate success and independence for individuals with disabilities. Last November, I interviewed Senator Hillary Clinton at a Presidential Primary Election. I told her about the importance of health care, economic opportunity, and medical research for those living with disabilities. In the spring, I went to Washington DC as a guest of AA Homecare to advocate for home care, medical equipment and DME supplies to allow people to remain living in the community rather than being forced into facilities. In my home state of Massachusetts, I rallied on Beacon Hill with other advocates to ensure protection of the “Community First Act” and other legislation. I had the chance to do a lot of outreach on my MWA ’08 platform as well: Physical Fitness for People with Disabilities. I attended several Expos and Conferences where I presented workshops on exercise and nutrition, and I taught wheelchair aerobics sessions to people of all ages – from young kids to seniors – they loved working out! And I loved interacting with all of them.

During the course of my reign, I was able to spread my message of Leading by Example across America. By this statement I mean simply, if I can do it, you can too! I did so much outreach about my passions: fitness, travel, employment, mentoring, literacy, and more. I got many people with disabilities to join exercise and nutrition programs. One woman wrote to me that she lost 22 pounds after she followed my example! Another young girl shared her writing with me – and later she got it published! And of course the highlight of my reign will always be securing MWA’s place in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

My travels are now at an end, and I am both happy and sad to hand over my crown. It seemed like each place I visited, I met a former “Ms Wheelchair somebody“ from one state or another, and I ended up making a very long list of new friends. We all have had our time to reign, and now it is time for me to sit back and cheer on the incumbent.

I am a proud wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, peer mentor, advocate, and woman with a disability, and I will always be proud to have been named Ms Wheelchair America 2008.

Thank you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Congratulations to the new Ms. Wheelchair America!

Meet Ms. Wheelchair America 2009
Michelle Colvard, Ms. Wheelchair Texas 2008, was named the new national titleholder on Saturday night, July 26! Check back soon for more details...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Off To Nationals...

I'm leaving this weekend for Washington DC to crown the new national titleholder, Ms. Wheelchair America 2009. The competition will take place all week, and the winner will be chosen live at the pageant next Saturday evening, July 26th. I wish all of this year's contestants the best of luck!

I can't believe it's been a year already since I competed for the crown! I have had a wonderful year, traveling across the country as an advocate and voice of over 50 million Americans with disabilities. It has truly been an honor and a privilege to give something back to my country in this way, as well as to positively affect the lives of those living with disabilities. I hope to continue my advocacy work for a long time to come...

I would like to thank all of those people who have supported me along the way - my husband, family, friends, peers, blog-readers, and everyone else who has touched my life. This has been a year I will indeed cherish for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thank You for Sponsorship - Origins

The Origins store in Braintree, MA has generously donated beauty gift bags for each of the 2009 MWA contestants. I'll be bringing them with me to give out at nationals next week!

Origins mission is to promote beauty and wellness through good-for-you products and feel-good experiences by celebrating the connection between Mother Nature and Human Nature.

Since it launched in 1990, Origins has been about looking at things in different ways. Choices. Alternatives. New experiences. All sorts of exciting new possibilities. And always finding answers in nature. Since 1990, we’ve been creating and innovating healthful choices in Skin Care, Hair Care, Bath and Body, Color and Sensory Therapy® products using the best of nature along with trying to do what’s best for the planet and what’s best for you. Our many unique products go beyond physical appearance to treat, touch, scent and surround every aspect of your being and well-being. We create products for farmhouse and penthouse, for men and women, babies and pets, getting and gifting. Whether you need an aromatic candle to light your way...or a special gift to make someone’s day, you’ll find just what you need to live a more natural lifestyle at Origins.

Special thanks to store manager Ginny for this very generous donation!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Kiwanis Club Collaboration - Big News!

Thanks to the Kiwanis,

Ms. Wheelchair America 2009

will be in the Rose Parade, not at the Rose Parade!!!

MWA and the Kiwanis have created an exciting collaboration, resulting in the next Ms Wheechair America national titleholder being invited to be ON the Kiwanis float in the 2009 Rose Parade!

I met with the President of the International Kiwanis Club, Dave Curry (above), Rose Float Builder's Administrator Larry Maddick (below), and other members of MWA in January when I went out to Pasedena to participate in this year's Rose Bowl festivities. The Kiwanis were extremely impressed with MWA and eagerly agreed that we should form a partnership to have Ms Wheelchair America in the Rose Parade next year! This is such groundbreaking, exciting news!!! We shored things up in May when I met with Larry Maddick again at the Abilities Expo in Anaheim. (Check out our YouTube Interview - right)

This major accomplishment proves that change is possible with hard work, patience and true committment to the cause...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Photo Shoot

I just finished up a photo shoot for Skirt Magazine. I am going to be featured in their September issue. Check out the link below to see what this exiting new magazine is all about!
Skirt! Magazine

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cover Girl

I was recently interviewed for the disability magazine, Special Living. I spoke about my life as a woman with a disability as well as my committment to health and fitness. I am even featured on the cover of the magazine!

Read the ARTICLE, "Leading by Example" by clicking HERE.

Click HERE to see the SpeciaLiving Magazine.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fourth of July Festivities

I had the honor of marching in the Pittsfield, Massachusetts 4th of July parade today with Kristen Parisi, Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts 2008. My brother and sister-in-law came along for the fun - we all had a great time!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Independence for All

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

Below are excerpts from this hallowed document, the foundation of our country:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States...

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Upcoming Appearance: TREC Day - July 10, 2008

Therapeutic Recreation Enhances Confidence

Join Us in Celebrating National TR Week
Spaulding Main Campus

Sports Day
Thursdsay, July 10
1 - 4 pm
(Rain Date Thursday, July 17)

Please join us in promoting accessible community recreation.
Gain exposure to local organizations, resources, equipment and participate
in adaptive sports

Sponsored by: Therapeutic Recreation Department

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Florida "Family Cafe" Article

ORLANDO, FL - The 10th annual Governor's Summit on Disabilities completed on Sunday from Disney's Coronado Springs Resort on the Walt Disney World compound. According to the conference program, "The Family Café Annual Conference is a statewide event designed to meet the need for information and networking among people with disabilities and/or special health care needs and their families from all regions of Florida."

During the event, participants were given the choices of up to 20 concurrent sessions, with topics ranging from issues for siblings, financial management, advocacy, medical challenges, involvement for fathers, motivating the faith-based community, recreation, to how to work with the proper government agencies without losing your cool. Practical parenting information was shared in other sessions. Several state, local, and federal government agencies were also on hand to direct participants to the appropriate system as citizens attempt to cut through the proverbial red tape.

State Representative Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) delivered the keynote summit address. After addressing the capacity crowd in a candid speech, Rep. Galvano allowed for a "Q&A" session, where participants asked direct, often pointed, questions to the state representative.
Featured between nearly every breakout session was the famous "Pyramid Players." This lively group provided entertainment during the breaks between sessions for all passers-by. The youth participating may not be seen on the next season of American Idol, but their brand of song, dance, and demonstration was a certain crowd-pleaser.

Over 100 exhibitors were on hand to showcase their products and services. They ranged from national advocacy groups like Paralyzed Veterans of America and AARP to local art vendors. Also present were various industry experts helping the disabled with products to enhance their lives with improved wheelchairs, practical shower stalls, and usable, attractive cars that are fully accessible.

Some of the exhibitors were given the opportunity to share detailed information in the concurrent sessions. This enabled interested individuals to hear the full range of services and products offered by the exhibitors.

Even Ms. Wheelchair America 2008, the lovely Kristen McCosh of Boston, was present to autograph photos and discuss her exercise program for the disabled. Her personal story of overcoming the obstacles of both disabilities and the challenges of fitness give her the motivation ("Lead by example") to help others in their quest to enrich their own lives.

At the end of the second evening, guests were treated with a special presentation by the "Dueling Pianos." This crowd pleaser has become a staple for those who want wholesome entertainment during a very intense program.

Present for the conference were families of all political stripes. But politics were set aside. Each family had their own story to tell. Some disabilities were not always apparent, such as8 mild autism. Others were quite obvious in the form of a wheelchair-bound child, unable to perform the simplest of tasks. Parents of children with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, blindness, missing limbs, and countless other issues all shared a common purpose on that weekend: Helping and encouraging each other through government, church, charity, community, and family.

A seemingly balanced mixture of all facets of community was showcased on Disney property.
On the web at

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Upcoming Event: Pittsfield Parade - July 4, 2008

Come out and join me on Friday, July 4, 2008, for the Pittsfield Parade!

The Honorable Grand Marshall for the 2008 Pittsfield 4th of July Parade is
David Grover

Parade treasurer, Peter Marchetti said, “David Grover is a national figure whose talent has been recognized with many awards over the years. Children in Berkshire County grew up listening to the fun, uplifting music of the Big Bear Band. David has such a natural ability to teach children and their families through his music and we thought with our theme this year, A World of Music, it was a perfect fit.”

The Pittsfield 4th of July Parade has an historic reputation dating back to 1824, when the procession consisted of Revolutionary War survivors, patriots, politicians and horse-drawn carriages. The parade was held off and on by various citizen groups until 1947 when it was taken over by the Pittsfield Permanent Firemen's Association. Under the firemen, the parade grew in size and popularity but was discontinued in 1976. After a bleak 1977 with no parade, a small group of volunteer citizens obtained $2,000 seed money from the City of Pittsfield and held their first parade in 1978. Over the years, this independent, non-profit organization -- the Pittsfield 4th of July Parade Committee, Inc. -- has grown in size, spirit, and determination, and with it, the parade has grown in size, quality, and popularity.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Medicare Action Alert

National Spinal Cord Injury Assocation Needs Your Help...

  • Act Today to Preserve the First Month Purchase Option for Power Wheelchairs
  • Standard Power Wheelchairs are not "One Size Fits All"

A short window is open in which individuals can act to preserve the "first month purchase option" for power wheelchair users to help ensure that every wheelchair user has the correct equipment for his or her individual needs. Contact your Congressional Members and let them know you want to retain the right to choose!

Currently, when a supplier receives information from a person's doctor that a power wheelchair is needed, the supplier will meet with the individual to ensure the best power wheelchair is ordered, one which will meet all of the needs for the individual.

Medicare currently allows an individual to choose whether they want to purchase the power wheelchair that is right for their size, disability and home situation, or just to rent a power chair. Ninety-five percent of beneficiaries choose to purchase the power wheelchair because one size does not fit all.

If you are required to rent your power wheelchair, instead of having the option to purchase, complications likely to arise include the following:

  • • The supplier will provide you with the "type" of power wheelchair from their inventory of available rental items. It will not be ordered to your specifications;
  • • You may receive a new power wheelchair or you may receive a used power wheelchair during your rental period. This will be dependent upon the supplier's inventory at the time that the wheelchair is requested;
  • • The supplier retains ownership of the power wheelchair you are provided until a full 13 months of rental have been paid, at which time ownership of the power wheelchair is transferred to you;
  • • If you rent the power wheelchair for the full 13 months you, and the Medicare program, will pay 5% more for it than you would have if you had the option to purchase it in the first month;
  • • If you enter the hospital or a skilled nursing facility at any time during the 13 month rental period you do not have coverage for the power wheelchair during your inpatient stay. The supplier may pick the chair up, clean it and return it to their inventory for the next beneficiary that needs to rent a power wheelchair of that "type";
  • • If you still have a medical need for a power wheelchair upon discharge from the hospital or nursing home the supplier can deliver a power wheelchair back to you; however, there is no guarantee that you will receive the chair you have become accustomed to.

What can you do to preserve your right to choose? Call your Senators and Representative at 202-224-3121 and ask that they retain the first-month purchase option for power wheelchairs or allow the physician to make the determination as to when a rental or purchased power wheelchair will meet your medical needs. Maintaining the current policy of allowing you to purchase the equipment in the first month will ensure appropriate access to equipment and lower costs to you and the Medicare program. Allowing the physician to determine if there is a lifetime medical need (13 months or longer) will preserve access, ensure that medical needs are met and lower costs to the Medicare program and you.

You can copy and email the below letter or call your Senator.
JOHN F. KERRY, MA email to his aide Chris Dawe
Dear Senator Kerry;
Please keep the current legislation on Medicare provision to purchase a Power Wheelchair so that the current Medicare beneficiaries have the choice to rent or purchase their power wheelchair. Please keep all power wheelchairs available for purchase after the first month. If you limit power wheelchairs, you limit those of us that need 90% of all power wheelchairs purchased that we will own for life.

I am asking you to please consider recommendations that will retain this option and allow the beneficiary the option to purchase the equipment in the first month in order to ensure appropriate beneficiary access and lower costs to both Medicare beneficiaries and the Medicare program. Please allow our physicians who see us regularly to make the choice on our behalf.

Eliminating this option will limit access of power wheelchairs and to the people who most need mobility. Mobility is everything to a person with a disability, it could mean being able to get to your bathroom, do your dishes, answer the door, go to a doctor’s appointment and most of all live an independent life. Limiting mobility wills injure and harm those who are only asking to have the choice of mobility.


Your Name
Your address

Congressional switchboard number 202-224-3121US Senate Members Representative Members

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Images from 2008 Health & Fitness Expo

New England Patriots star Tedy Bruschi:

Tedy Bruschi with local Paralympic sailor Maureen McKinnon Tucker
I'm onstage at the Expo discussing fitness for people with disabilities:

The audience listening to me speak...

Some local children get an autograph...

Channel 7 Reporter Randy Price...

And Sportscaster Joe Amorosino...

I met Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts 1979, Marie Conway...

My friend from South Boston, Denise Harrington...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Boston's Health and Fitness Expo

Come out to the Hynes Expo Center today to hear me speak about physical fitness as well as to "meet and greet" Ms Wheelchair America. Come by and get a free autographed picture!

Kristen McCosh - Ms. Wheelchair America, 2008

Presented by Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Saturday, June 21 - 1:00pm @ the Demo Stage, Hall B, 1325

Welcome to the Second Annual Boston Health Expo at the HYNES CONVENTION CENTER, BOYLSTON STREET, BOSTON. 7 NBC/CW56 and Partners HealthCare welcome you to Boston's second annual Health & Fitness Expo. We share a deep commitment to helping Boston-area residents improve their health and stay fit and healthy for the future. That's why we've come together to offer two days filled with over one hundred lively, educational and healthy activities for visitors of all ages. The Health & Fitness Expo is a FREE 2-day event at Boston's Hynes Convention Center that is about keeping you and your family fit and healthy. There's something for everyone at the Expo:

- free health tests and screenings

- a chance to talk with some of Boston's leading physicians and health experts

- interactive sports and fitness activities for adults and kids

- healthy cooking demonstrations

- celebrity guests, including 7 NBC personalities, and more!

Browse the web site daily to see what's in-store and plan to join to us on June 21st and 22nd! We look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Health and Fitness Expo

Tomorrow is Boston's Health and Fitness Expo. Be sure to check back soon for video and commentary on the event. It's a big one: 70,000 people attended last year.

Have a healthy day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mt. Sinai SCI Wellness Webcast

I have been invited to participate in filming a series of webcasts on wellness for Spinal Cord Injury. Check back soon for updates on where you can view these informative webcasts.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Come Out To See Me on Saturday!

I will be presenting a FREE workshop on "Physical Fitness for People with Disabilities" on Saturday at 1 pm at the Hynes Convention Center. Check out the link below for more info!